Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 9, 2014 12:00pm-2:01pm EST

12:00 pm
in fact, false, because as we saw firsthand, the administration never undertook the necessary diplomatic effort to reach such an agreement. the senator from south carolina and i traveled to iraq in may 2011 only several months away from the deadline that our commanders had set for the beginning of the withdrawal. we met wul the leaders of iraq's many plail blocks and heard a common message during all of these private conversations. iraqi leaders recognized that it was in their country's interest to maintain a limited number of u.s. troops to continue training and assisting iraqi security forces beyond 2011. but when we asked ambassador jeffrey and the commander of the u.s. forces in iraq lloyd austin while in a meeting with prime minister maliki how many u.s. troops remaining in iraq would
12:01 pm
perform and sowm the administration sought to main tankers they couldn't tell us or the iraqis. the white house still had not made a decision. it went on like this for the next few months. by august 2011, the leaders of iraq's main political blocks states they were prepared to enter negotiations to keep some u.s. troops in iraq. an ir entire month passed and sl the white house made no decision. all the while during this inte internal deliberation as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff general martin dempsey later testified before the senate armed services committee, the size of a potential u.s. force presence kept cascading down from upwards of 16,000 to an event low of less than 3,000. by that point the force would be able to do little rather than protect itself and prime minister maliki and other iraqi
12:02 pm
leaders realized that the political cost of accepting this proposal was not worth the benefit. to blame this failure entirely on the iraqi iraqis is conveniet it misses the real point. the reason to keep around 10,000 to 15,000 u.s. forces in iraq was not for the sake of iraq alone. it was first and foremost in our national security interest to continue training and advising iraqi forces and to maintain greater u.s. influence in iraq. that core principle should have driven a very different u.s. approach to the sofa -- that's the status force forces agreemet diplomacy. the obama administration should have recognized after years of brutal conflict, iraqi leaders still lacked trust in one another and a strong u.s. role was required to help iraqis broker their most politically sensitive decisions. for this reason, the
12:03 pm
administration should have determined what tasks and troop numbers were in the national interest to maintain in iraq and done so with ample time to engage with iraqis at the highest level of the u.s. government to shape political conditions in baghdad to achieve our goal. we focus on this failure not because u.s. troops would have made a decisive difference in iraq by engaging in unilateral combat operations against al qaeda and other threats to iraq's stability. by 2011, u.s. forces were no longer in iraqi cities or engaged in security operations. however, residual u.s. troop presence could have assisted iraqi forces in their continued fight against al qaeda. it could have provided a platform for greater diplomatic engagement and intelligence cooperation with our iraqi partners. it could have made iranian leaders think twice about using iraqi airspace to transit military assistance and weapons and arms and equipment to assad
12:04 pm
and his forces in syria. and most importantly, it could have maintained the significant diplomatic influence that the united states at that time possessed in iraq, influence that had been and still was essential in guaranteeing iraq's nascent political system, reassuring iraqi leaders that they could resolve their differences peacefully and politically despite their mistrust of one another, and checking the authoritarian and sectarian tendencies of prime minister malaki and his allies. the administration's failure in iraq has been further compounded by its failure in syria. in syria, where president obama has refused to take any meaningful action, the initially peaceful protests of early 2011 were met by horrific violence by the assad regime. this president and this administration has stood back and watched while over 130,000
12:05 pm
people have been brutally killed and a fourth of the population displaced. in his promise to avoid military action and reduce u.s. footprint in the middle east, we have seen the resurgence of al qaeda throughout the region. hezbollah in iran elm bolded in syria -- emboldened in syria, russia reasserting its presence for the first time since it was kicked out of egypt by egyptian president sadat in 1973, and the destabilization of the region in ways that will inevitably reverberate back here in ameri america. again, there are those who may applaud president obama's decision to disengage, arguing that this isn't america's problem to solve, that the u.s. is fundamentally limited in its ability to influence developments in the middle east is a consistent theme within the administration. no one denies that there are limits to what the u.s. can do. that's always the case.
12:06 pm
but as secretary hillary clinton told the senate foreign relations committee as she was leaving office -- quote -- "let me underscore the importance of the united states continuing to lead in the middle east, north africa and around the world. when america is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. extremism takes root, our interests suffer and our security at home is threatened. threatened." nowhere do her words ring more true than in syria and iraq today, begging the question by fleeing iraq and side-stepping syria, as the administration helped empower terrorist forces in ways that have created long-term threats to u.s. national security. i'm afraid it's hard to argue that the answer is no. the administration must recognize its failed policies and change its course. america has lost credibility and
12:07 pm
influence over the past years and we simply can't afford to remain disengaged. it is time that america stand up and play its rightful role in resolving these conflicts to best serve american interests. it's time that we adopt a comprehensive strategy for addressing the growing threats that are now emanating from the region and move forward from a position of strength. return of al qaeda to anbar province is a sobering reminder for the administration that the tide of war is not receding. i see my colleague from south carolina here. i'm sorry, i didn't realize you had come. i know that the senator from south carolina and i need to discuss a recent unfortunate development in afghanistan, but before -- before we do, could i recall for my friend from south
12:08 pm
carolina of the many, many vis visits -- and i've lost count -- the many visits that we made to iraq from 2003 really up to 20 2012, that one of the most interesting visits we had was when we were in ramadi and colonel mcfarland announced to us that the sunni sheikh hads hd come over, he had sent some tanks over, and that was the beginning of what we know as the anbar awakening, a turning point in the entire conflict which, coupled with the surge, changed the fortunes of war in iraq. by the way, the surge being opposed vehemently by the president of the united states and the former secretary of state, then-senator clinton, who stated in the hearing with general petraeus that she would have to have a willing -- i
12:09 pm
quote -- "willing suspension of disbelief in order to believe that the surge would succeed." but setting that aside, and then later when we came back again to fallujah and ramadi and the senator from south carolina and i walked down the main street of ramadi -- down the main stree street -- with iraqis everywhe everywhere, proving the success of the surge in anbar province. and now the same streets that we walked through, the exact same streets are now vehicles filled with al qaeda flying the black flag of al qaeda. the bloodiest war that was -- conflict that was fought in our entire involvement in iraq was the second battle of fallujah. 95 brave americans killed, over 600 wounded. what do we tell these young
12:10 pm
people and their families, what do we tell them? i'll tell you what we have to tell them. we have to tell them that their sacrifice was squandered by an administration that wanted out and didn't want to remain and consolidate the gains that was made through the blood, the sacrifice of american blood and treasure. mr. graham: i'd be glad to respond to senator mccain. number one, to the average american, i understand being war weary. iraq and afghanistan have been long, difficult wars, cost a lot of money and a lot of american lives. but the point of the war is to make sure that radical islam is contained and eventually defeated and that's going to take an effort on our part. does it matter that the al qaeda flag flies over fallujah and ramadi? i think it does. i think when al qaeda occupies a city anywhere in the world, it
12:11 pm
potentially affects every city throughout the world. imagine the nazis having come back in germany and occupied part of germany. we didn't let that happen. we had a follow-on force in japan and germany to make sure that the transition from totalitarian, dictatorial states to functioning democracies would occur. we're still in japan and germa germany. we're not taking casualties. to go into the mideast and replace dictatorships and think you can do it just in a matter of months or even a decade i think is probably not going to hold water, quite frankly. the good news is that we were in a position in iraq in 2010 where if we had left behind a residual force, not to be in combat but to provide the logistical, air support, training, intelligence capabilities missing in the
12:12 pm
iraqi army, this would have been a very different outcome. and it does matter to my fellow citizens here in the united states. if al qaeda's on the rise anywhere, it does affect us. remember afghanistan, when the russians left and the taliban took over and they invited al qaeda and bin laden in to be their honored guests? the rest is history. the reason 3,000 americans died on 9/11 and not 3 million is that the terrorists, the radical islamists, the al qaeda and their affiliates can't get the weapons to kill 3 million of us. if they could, they would. so the goal is to create stability and to marginalize al qaeda throughout the region, and, unfortunately, as senator mccain has predicted for a very long time, the absence of a follow-on force allowed security to break down and the vacuum was filled by the emergence of al qaeda in iraq. i just would like to go over some testimony in june 2010 when general austin was about to take
12:13 pm
over from general owe owed oder, command of our operations in iraq. the general told me that we were inside the 10-yard line when it came to be successful in iraq. in other words, the surge had worked. the surge that senator mccain supported during his presidential campaign worked. president bush made his fair share of mistakes in iraq but to his undying credit, he adjusted policies. we were all in. he gave general petraeus all the troops we had to give and he stood behind general petraeus, and over a two- or three-year period, there was a phenomenal turnaround in the security situation in iraq. the surge started really in late 2007, early 2008. and here's what had existed in 2010 in june. basically we were inside the 10-yard line. and general odeirno said, "i
12:14 pm
think in the next 18 months we'll determine whether we get to the goal line or give really the iraqis an opportunity to get to the goal line beyond 2011." so we were in a really good sp spot. the surge had worked and we needed to close this thing out. and i asked this question back in 2010. "what would happen if iraq had become a failed state? let's say that we're inside the 10-yard line but we're not smart enough on get in the end zone. what would happen?" and here's what general odeineiro said. "if we had a failed state in iraq, it would create uncertainty and significant instability probably within the region because the criticality of iraq, its relationship to iran, its relationship to the other arab states in the region. if it became unstable, it could create an environment that could continue to increase the instability." now, i don't believe we're close to that. i believe we're very far away
12:15 pm
from that happening. i think we're definitely on the right path. but those are the kind of things that would happen if we had a complete breakdown inside of iraq." and there's a quote i can't find right now but i will get it here in a second from general austin. the top u.s. commander in iraq has said repeatedly that iraq is not yet fully capable of defending its own airspace or land borders and it needs help in other areas such as intelligence and logistics. our military commanders were telling us that the surge had worked but we were not there y yet. and here's what i would like to say to the administration. if you believed iraq was the wrong war to fight and we shouldn't be there, own your decision. don't blame the iraqis. the truth of the matter is that the administration led by president obama had absolutely no desire to leave one person
12:16 pm
behind in iraq because this was bush's war, that america was tired and he ran on the idea of ending the war in iraq, and when it came time to make that fateful decision about a small 10,000 type, 12,000, whatever the number was, residual force to maintain the gains we had fought so hard and to keep iraq stable, he now wants to tell the world it was the iraqis. i know different. i know and so does senator mccain that this administration made it impossible for the iraqis to say yes because this administration would never give the iraqi government a troop number from the white house as to the size of the force. i remember general austin saying publicly we needed 18,000. the bottom line for the pentagon was somewhere slightly north of ten. i remember the discussions in the white house got down to
12:17 pm
3,500 and it was cascading down. i remember general dempsey answering my question as to how the numbers were reduced. was it as a result of the iraqis saying no, that's too many troops to leave behind in iraq or were the numbers reduced because the white house did not want to have that many people left behind? he said the cascading down from 18,000 all the way to 3,500 had nothing to do with the iraqis. it was uncertainty and unwillingness of the white house to commit to a number. so what happened? we left the country with 200 u.s. troops advising and assisting, no capability, and everything that they talked about happening, if you do not get iraq right and get into the end zone from the 10-yard line, in 2010 it's happening on steroids. everything our generals told us about what would happen in iraq is coming true at a fast,
12:18 pm
accelerated pace. i turn it over to senator mccain. mr. mccain: i ask my friend again that, one, iraq and syria now are in change of becoming a base for al qaeda, and movement back and forth between in that area of anbar province which obviously poses an enormous threat because we know what the ultimate goal of al qaeda is. and could i also recall for my friend from south carolina the meeting we had with maliki after we had met with awlawi, after we met with barsani, the leader of the kurds, to address a u.s. troop presence to remain in iraq, and this administration refused, even after we came back and begged them to give us a number, refused to give the number, and claiming that it had to be endorsed by the
12:19 pm
president -- by their parliament, which was absolutely false. but now we see iranian aircraft overflying iraq with weapons and arms for the -- for bashar assad. we see anbar and that area of syria and iraq now becoming possibly a base for al qaeda to operate. we see the two major cities in anbar, ramadi and fallujah where so much american blood was shed, now vehicles driving around with the black flag of al qaeda on display, and let me make it clear -- and i think it's important we do -- the senator from south carolina and i are not advocating sending combat troops back to iraq. that's impossible. it may be an avenue, but it's impossible and we are not advocating that.
12:20 pm
we are advocating that we send some advice, we give them some equipment, we give them some capabilities, we help them with intelligence, and there are certain places we can help them with, but at the same time now prime minister maliki has to reach out to the sunnis and get a reconciliation. from the day that u.s. troops left iraq, maliki began to persecute the sunni. he even charged his own vice president who was a sunni with treason and the vice president had to leave the country. so if any of this is going to work, if we have any influence -- and have no doubt who has the influence in iraq today, iran. but if we have influence, we have to tell maliki that we want to help, we want to give him the kind of technical assistance he needs, but he has to reach out
12:21 pm
to the sunni in the way that took place in the anbar awakening back in 2008, because without national reconciliation, all the equipment and all the assistance we can give the iraqis will not happen. so i -- i do blame prime minister maliki. responsibility lies with his behavior towards the sunni. but we were not there to influence him. we were not there, and it's not only what the kind of assistance we could have provided them that they need, but it also is the influence issue. no expert on iraq today will tell you that we have anything but a minimum influence, and iran has that. and if anybody thinks that al qaeda control of large portions of iraq and syria are not a threat to the united states of america, then they don't understand the nature of
12:22 pm
al qaeda. mr. graham: as to the future of how to move forward, prime minister maliki, with all faults, did go to basra and take on the shia militia. i believe he is an iraqi nationalist. i would urge the sunnis to reach back out, too. the political gains we have made in iraq are being lost by lack of security. if we had had a residual force, the political momentum toward reconciling iraq would have continued. without security, people go back to their sectarian corners, and i would argue that the sunnis need to up their game, too. but the immediate problem is how do you repel al qaeda from fallujah and ramadi. the way it worked before is you had the sunni awakening where the tribal leaders in anbar, the sunni tribal leaders, had a taste of the iraqi -- excuse me, the al qaeda agenda and said no thank you. they were literally killing children in front of their
12:23 pm
parents for smoking. the stories coming out of an bar province -- be abar province about the abuse the people of anbar suffered under al qaeda control would break your heart. so the sunni leaders married up with american military personnel to drive the al qaeda elements out of anbar. we're not there now, so how do you get al qaeda dislodged from anbar province, ramadi and fallujah? you're going to have to get the sunni tribal leaders to work with the iraqi army. i think now is a good time to send a former military commander of the u.s. forces, someone who is retired, if that's what's required, to see if they can bring these parties together to form a military alliance between the sunni tribal leaders and the iraqi army so that the weight of the iraqi army can be brought into this fight, the distrust is
12:24 pm
high but the way al qaeda was defeated in the past was the u.s. military working with the sunni tribal leaders. we're not there. so i would hope the administration -- mr. mccain: i would argue i say to my friend from south carolina two names that spring to mind. one is general petraeus, the other is ambassador crocker, two of probably the most respected people in iraq today. maybe we're getting into too much detail, but i do agree with him on that. mr. graham: well, the bottom line is we have got to change the momentum. we're not there. but senator menendez, to his great credit, is willing to release his hold on the sale of apache helicopters to allow the iraqi military an advantage over al qaeda. i think senator menendez did the right thing. so supplying arms in a smart way is part of the strategy to move forward, but you have got to get the military in iraq working with the sunni tribal leaders, and senator mccain, i'd ask you this question. on the other side of the border in syria is complete chaos, is
12:25 pm
hell on earth, and what -- i don't know how you stabilize iraq long term until you deal with the dismantling of syria where al qaeda occupies the region right across the iraqi border. how does a breakdown in syria affect iraq? mr. mccain: i don't think there is any doubt, i would say to my friend from south carolina, that this has become an almost safe operating area on both sides of the syria-iraq border for al qaeda. you know, it's interesting, there has been a little good news in the last day or two, and that is that some of the more moderate forces in syria have struck back at this radical islamist group because of the incredible cruelty of al-nusra and nsis, which is the iraqi -- which is the radical islamic
12:26 pm
group in -- both in iraq and syria. and interestingly enough, that is being accomplished without any united states help. thank god for the other countries like saudi arabia, qatar and others that have been of assistance to these people, and they have been driving out some of the more extremist element. and we are working with the russians to remove the chemical weapons. in syria today, bashar assad from helicopters is dropping these crude cluster bombs that are just shrapnel that kill anybody within lethal range, and of course since dropping it on populated areas, bashar assad has slaughtered innocent men, women and children. so here we are working with the russians.
12:27 pm
today there was a u.n. resolution from the security council condemning bashar assad's barbaric behavior. guess who voted, guess -- guess who vetoed, guess who vetoed that? our friends, the russians. this is the most orwellian situation in iraq that anybody has ever seen throughout history. the russians are working with us to remove chemical weapons from syria, and at the same time aircraft from russia are landing full of weapons to kill syrian men, women and children from russia. i mean, it is -- it is -- i'm not sure that a syrian mother can differentiate between her child dying from a chemical weapon or dying from one of these cluster bombs that bashar assad is unloading from his helicopter. so we -- we have this grandiose
12:28 pm
idea that the secretary of state and the administration has been pushing for months and months to have a geneva, geneva two. the first geneva failed. does anyone on god's green earth believe that bashar assad, who is winning, is going to preside over his own transition from power? of course not. i will never forget, i'm sure that my friend from south carolina will never forget the testimony of our now still chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and then secretary of state, secretary of defense leon panetta before the armed services committee, bashar assad inevitably will lead. the president of the united states, bashar assad, it's not a matter of when, it's not a matter of whether he will lead, but a matter of when. meanwhile, the weapons pour in from iran. hezbollah, 5,000 of them. 130,000 people slaughtered. and the -- a quarter of the population being slaughtered.
12:29 pm
while this administration not only sits by and does nothing but the president of the united states says nothing, says nothing. this will go down as one of the most shameful chapters in american history. and if the policy of this administration is to only focus on counterterrorism and get out of the middle east, remove any involvement of the united states in the middle east, can i assure you, my colleagues, that the middle east will not allow the united states of america not to be involved. mr. graham: if i may just conclude here, i have a quote from speaker boehner who said he would support the obama administration if it decides to keep troops in iraq beyond 2011. i remember senator obama and senator clinton not being particularly helpful to the mistakes made in iraq during the bush administration. as a matter of fact, the entire election in 2008 in the primary was about iraq, and i remember
12:30 pm
the politics of barack obama candidate who basically used the iraq war i guess to win the nomination, i guess, for lack of a better word. i remember during the campaign, he tbawkd afghanistan being the good war. we'll talk about afghanistan later. it's not a happy story either, i'm afraid. but the bottom line is there was bipartisan support for troop presence beyond 2011, a residual force. this administration chose to ignore the advice of their commanders and vead a situation where the iraqis could not say yes yet they want history to record this being a problem created by the iraqis for not giving legal imhiewnt to u.s. soldiers. history is going to be written about our times. how this ends, nobody knows but i know this: it is not fair to say the reason we have nobody left behind in iraq is because of the iraqis. it's fair to say that the administration got the result
12:31 pm
they wanted and they should own that. good, bad, or indifferent. don't create a straw person for the situation that you drove and you created. and as to syria, please understand that this whole conflict started when people went to the streets peacefully to ask for more political freedom after the uprising in egypt, that this is war in syria did not start with a sunni uprising or al qaeda invading the country. the conflict in syria started when the people of syria from all walks of life started demanding more from their government, from this dictatorship and the response they received from their government was to use lethal force. and it has broken down now to a regional conflict where the iranians are backing assad and you got sunni arab states
12:32 pm
backing parts of the opposition and you got al qaeda types coming from iraq and other places filling in the vacuum created by this breakdown in syria. so at the end of the day what senator mccain had been talking about for about three years is that once you say assad has to go, no president should ever say that unless they're willing to make it happen. assad was on the ropes with just any effort on our part and no -- no-fly zone, boots on the ground, any assistance at all in the last couple of years, assad would have gone, the transition would be well under way, it would have been bloody at first but we would have behind us now a syria moving towards stability because the good news is the average syrian is not a radical al qaeda islamist. syrians have been living peacefully with each other, chins, sunnis and others for hundreds of years. now syria has become the central
12:33 pm
battle for every rad alislamist in the region and it is just sad and sorry to witness, but what does it mean to us? it means that this war continues, that our friend in jordan, the king of jordan is you know siege. the lebanese ambassador testified a couple of weeks ago in our committee that the country is saturated. they're almost -- there are almost a million refuges have gone to lebanon. over five million people in lebanon today. they've added almost a million refuges from -- refugees from syria. they did not plan to get to five million until 2050. the jordannians have received over 600,000 refugees with no end in sight. syria is not a civil war. syria is a regional conflict where you got proxies backing each side in syria that's taking the entire region into chaos. it is killing iraq, it is destabilizing lebanon and
12:34 pm
jordan. it has to be addressed in an effective way. you want to be president of the united states, certain requirements come with the job. having a vision, making tough calls at the time when it would matter. on president obama's watch you had the arab spring come about and you had a desire by this administration to lead the region at any and all cost and now you have absolute chaos. the only way we're going to fix this is for america to get reengaged, you don't need boots on the ground but you need leadership. and it just breaks my heart to see how close we were in 2010, the surge did work in spite of opposition from president obama as senator and secretary clinton as senator, in spite of their vehement opposition the surge did work and on their watch, on
12:35 pm
their watch we're about to lose everything we fought for, al qaeda is the biggest beneficiary of our withdrawal from iraq, al qaeda is the biggest beneficiary of our indifference in syria, al qaeda is thriving, and our allies and our friends are in retreat. mr. mccain: thank you for your patience. we yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate previous order, the senate
12:36 pm
30,000, signaling fewer layoffs and a steady job growth. applications for a proxy for layoffs and the appear to have stabilized near the previous session levels after a period of volatility around the christmas holiday and that suggests the recent job gains will continue. the government will release the december jobs report tomorrow. that's from the associated press. shortly after 11 this morning, new jersey governor chris christy started a news conference with reporters about his office involvement with the intention of blocking of the traffic on the of george washington bridge in september. we will have his remarks for you short lahood. before that though remarks on secretary robert gates that criticizes the administration handling of the military conflict in iraq andgates. afghanistan. from today's washington journal.
12:37 pm
>> host: what was the reaction g.om the white house yesterdaymn from white house spokesman jay s carney?jay >> guest: it was a pretty swift response. jay carney, not surprisingly, backed the portion where the' former defense secretary supporting the president or praisedor the president and distanced the white house froml any portions that were critical or raised questions about the pocy. house approach to the foreign policy. >> host: and then what did we hear from them and what did the when i white house do when it comes toi theci criticism that defense secretary gates had for the vice president in his foreign policy decisions? >> guest: gates was pretty he booly criticized saying that
12:38 pm
he had been he essentially wrong on almost every policy decision over the last four decades. this was probably the easiest puiticism for the white house to push back on. and the officials current and former in support, he had a weekly lunch with the president, and was yesterday coincidentally and the white house invited thed top of the first internet lunch to the signal of that the president was signaling behind.- >> host: .gu >> host: if it wasn't the first time it was one of the only times and generally that has not happened. that is correct.
12:39 pm
>> host: what did you make of that? >> guest: it is hard to look past the times of it that we inflight the reporters in when the book comes out. he was asked about the timing and he called it a coincidence. it had been a struggle between the white house and the white house correspondent association over these sort of defense, and carney said that allowing photographers in the was a response to that criticism, that they were letting photographers in as a way to allow more access and calling it the time of the book a coincidence. but it's pretty hard to overlook the timing. and the question is will they work with the president next week, and if not, i think they wanted to get some photos out on
12:40 pm
cable news shows and newspapers today showing the president with the vice president. >> host: so, michael, was the white house aware of those, of the memoir and when it was coming out? did they give you an advanced copy? >> guest: they did get an advanced copy. it sounds like they got it along with the rest of the press. it's been known for a while that gates was writing this book to me it although it wasn't exactly clear what was going to be in it. carney said she got the book tuesday night, which i think was about the same time the publisher sent it out to the >> host: what do you expect, what do you know about how the white house reacted in the coming days? >> guest: well, the reaction will largely depend on how much attraction this book gets.
12:41 pm
these sort of memoirs come out periodically to make a splash for a couple of days and then is otherwise forgotten. we will see how much traction this one has. it's rare for a memoir to come out while a president is still in office and, you know, there are some thoughts that this might have more for hillary clinton instead of president obama. there wasn't a lot news-wise. in this gates book, the debate was over the surge in afghanistan, which was well documented at the time. one of the interesting things is the key to a conversation between obama and secretary clinton and the position to the surge in iraq was political.
12:42 pm
and as you know, hillary clinton is part of the top presidential candidate of 2016 and this is an issue that has come up for her. she has to answer questions for the democratic base. >> host: michael bender, bloomberg correspondent at the white house. thank you very much. >> guest: thanks a lot. by the way, you can see the former secretary gates discuss his book friday, january 17 that the constitution center in philadelphia. book tv will be there and you can see that here on c-span2. once again, live beginning 6:30 eastern friday, jennifer a. 17. the u.s. senate was an earlier today and are in recess until 2:15. we expect lawmakers to the date on the bill extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.
12:43 pm
the senate at 2:15 eastern. we will have live coverage on c-span2. new jersey governor is still conducting a news conference with reporters about his involvement in the intentional blocking traffic on the george washington bridge back in september. it started at about 11, just after 11 this morning. it's still going. and we will have his remarks shortly after it ends right here on c-span2. right now the way conversation on how the united states should proceed in iraq from this morning's washington journal. >> host: brian and higgins sits on the foreign affairs committee and homeland security back with us here at the washington journal. welcome back. thank you for being here. >> guest: thanks for having made. >> host: let's begin with them my mark on secretary robert gates. what is your reaction? >> guest: a lot is on the political margin. i think these books come out periodically coming and people look for those components that can be exploited. i think to, you know, call into question the consistency of
12:44 pm
relationships between the secretary of defense and the president. so i think these are exploited very often. but i think the full context of the book should be taken on its face. i think robert gates has been extraordinary in public service and in the public administraton. he has a lot of credibility. so i am more interested in his take on the situation in afghanistan and iraq, relative to long-term american interest. and, you know, war is a very complicated thing. it's confused. i've been to iraq and afghanistan many times. you know, and i just like to know from him his perspective about, you know, what we ought to be doing to try to stabilize that place. whether it is correct involvement or not. >> host: because right now the united states is trying to get the afghanistan president to sign this pact to allow troops
12:45 pm
to stay past 2014 and other issues. does this criticism of the president not backing his own plan for the surge and not owning it, does that have any fallout? >> guest: i think the president wants a good outcome in afghanistan want an outcome are two different things. the situation in afghanistan is very dire. it's no better today than it ever was. we are trying to encourage the karzai government and whatever is left to negotiate with the taliban. and i just think that when we look at afghanistan today as one of the most corrupt and poorest countries on the face of the earth, we have to bribe the president's brother in order to get information to help the united states and afghanistan and evolves as a state that is
12:46 pm
functional. the situation that is there, the afghans have to recognize the heavy responsibility to somehow come to some kind of an accommodation towards gold stabilizing their country. it's a country of about 31 million people. as i said, you know, the illiteracy rate for women in kandahar city is 1%. for men it's about 15%. trying to build up an afghan security force and army with people that cannot read or write. you have to build roads and bridges and schools and electricity grids. we have been out of there a long time and without any measurable improvement in my estimation. >> host: let's go to iraq if we could. you see the situation after the troops have left that al qaeda is seeking a foothold. here is the washington times. an iraqi diplomat once the
12:47 pm
president engagement in the al qaeda crisis. >> host: >> guest: that's all right, but iraqi under al-awlaki is not a pluralistic society embracing minorities, and that is fundamental to the problem. a book just came out, the second arab awakening coming and he argues that pluralism in the arab nation in order to have a functioning society. that is not occurring in iraq made the best that we can do is talk down the violence to give the warning faction of the shia and suni this base to be develop reconciliation. we cannot impose a settlement on the iraqi people. they have to resolve this themselves. when the americans are in the room, they are increasing the americans. when they are out of the room, they are pushing us away.
12:48 pm
they can't have it both ways. 500,000 american troops, 1.7 trillion in iraq. iraq today is as violent as it was when we went in. >> host: what should be the u.s. approach to the situation? >> guest: the approach to the situation is a situation afghanistan should provide support by pushing the factions together towards some kind of result. but unless -- shia and suni in that part of the world are still living in a conflict that started as to who the rightful profit mohammed is. they have to be resolved among those factions and whether it be egypt or afghanistan or iraq, the leaders of the country the day shia and suni have to develop some kind of
12:49 pm
constitution or preamble, a vision statement as to what they want the countries to be. and they have to have a rule fall and separation of powers and respect minority rights unless they will never have stability in the middle east and this is what is argued in the book the second arab awakening. the middle east is a highly pluralistic society with many different factions. you have shia and suni, christians, jews, you have tribal factions. so, those that will succeed in stabilizing the middle east and southeast asia, it will be potentially generations away. >> host: peter maker that covers the white house for "the new york times" tweeting around midnight saying that menendez from new jersey, a democrat is the chairman of the foreign relations committee signaled that he may clear the way for apaches to iraq after receiving urgent phone call from bill
12:50 pm
burns addressing the concerns. >> guest: the are going to go into another middle eastern civil war essentially alone to accomplish what? what has been accomplished over the last ten years in iraq? very little. there are still suicide bombers blowing at churches. the lesson for america is the best that we can hope for, again it is to condemn the violence and provide a breathing space, that opportunity for the actions to reconcile. if they don't take the opportunity, there isn't much more that the united states can do. so whenever military engagement in iraq i think is a fool's errand. >> host: senator john mccain and lindsey graham, two republicans who have supported surges in both iraq and afghanistan -- this is what the statement was on iraq. when president obama with your forces from iraq in 2011 over the objection of the military
12:51 pm
leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by america's enemies and would emerge as a threat to the u.s. national security interest. sadly, that we devotee is now more clear than ever. >> guest: well, i think it's more specific to the situation on the ground. i don't think it has to do with our policy. i think our policy is to recognize that we have tried coming and we have sacrificed considerably, both in terms of the treasury and in terms of american soldiers being lost in both iraq and afghanistan you know, the senator, with all due respect, he entered a military option for everything. if he had his way, we would be engaged militarily and syria and in iran and engaged in libya. the fact of the matter is the united states cannot resolve all of these problems. what we can do foreign policy
12:52 pm
starts at home with a prosperous america is a real inspiration to other countries in the world. what is happening in the middle east and the muslim world is that young people by and large, there's probably 175 million kids that are under the age of 20 that have no future. so of course there is going to be instability and radicalization. so, what's happening now is because of the internet and globalization, young people in that part of the world beat iran or syria, they are seeing the way that the rest of the world is living. and they feel humiliated. and they have radicalized because they are frustrated. so, i think that, you know, building a strong and prosperous america, nation building and home, is going to demonstrate to the rest of the world that we have a functioning pluralistic society with a rule of law, separation of powers, respect
12:53 pm
for the minority rights. and this is what he writes in his new book the second arab awakening. >> host: let's go to phone calls. fort myers florida, democratic call. hello, mary. >> caller: i have a question now. i know you have a billing expert, that you are a u.s. representative on the homeland security committee said you are responsible to the american people for the experts. we are talking national security here. there is very strong evidence proving that 9/11 was broken down by a controlled demolition. people are waking up to it. would you be personally willing with those experts? >> host: let me just -- mary is part of a group that is skeptical of what was done in september, 2011 attacks, the 9/11 commission, skeptical of their investigation.
12:54 pm
>> guest: certainly i have a responsibility to review all relevant information relative to that situation generally. so any information that is compelling i would certainly review coming yes. >> host: on to oregon. republican caller. hello, rick you are wrong with brian higgins. >> caller: i think that we should stay out of the foreign countries and walk away until it affect us directly at home. >> host: congressman? >> guest: i think that you're right. i think that he wrote the book, the future of freedom, democracy at home and abroad. what he said is we have to be careful of these pro-democracy movements. they are good revolution but not at governing. and unless you have what he refers to as the inner stuffing
12:55 pm
of democracy that is the rule of law you've really can't have a dhaka see. you know, george mitchell who negotiated in northern ireland said something the was a very profound in his book making peace. he basically said that exhaustion, not only of the negotiation, the negotiating table, but in the battlefield, is a huge intangible in resolving these differences. so, i think unless and until the world is more committed to the future of the world than killing one another and litigating to the successor to the profit mohammed is i don't think you will have any change. >> host: mark in florida. independent call. >> caller: yes, gretta i got cut off before. but any rate, i think brian is right on target. you know, the u.s. has to stay out of these countries.
12:56 pm
we go way back to vietnam, which is where we were going to take over and look what happened there. you know, people have to face reality. we left vietnam with our tail between our legs. the turned communist. our great fear of that. and we go there as tourists, you know what i'm saying? these countries have to work out their own problems. >> guest: i agree. you look at the situation in syria. busheir al-assad is no question a bad guy but the whole community is condemning him for the use of chemical weapons, which we should do. but the rebels are be heading people. savitt isn't a question of good or bad in that part of the world. it's bad, and sometimes in many cases much, much worse. and i think that we are too quick to jump in and provide support for people that criticize us, you know, for trying to do the right thing on
12:57 pm
their behalf. we get played in the middle east. we get played in iraq and afghanistan. and i think americans are sick and tired of it and want to see some nation-building at home, because i think, again, a strong prosperous america. the tools of collaboration is used not only for organization purposes in the middle east, but it's also used for aspirational purposes as well. >> host: use it on the subcommittee on counter terrorism and intelligence for the homeland security committee, ranking member on that. what is going on in syriac? what have you been told and what can you tell us when we see headlines like this in "the wall street journal," al qaeda militants retreat and syria? >> guest: there is a battle going on. you have got al-assad and then the rebel fighters that are made up of including the al qaeda fighters and the islamic extremists. now they are battling against each other. so, you know, really what is it that you want?
12:58 pm
she is clearly a bad guy, or do you of the islamic extremist in the affiliated fighters that are the best fighters among the rebels to take the control of that country? this is a civil war that has to be resolved internally. and i think that the more we signal that we are willing to get involved, the less likely these countries are to resolve their differences. you know, the democratic-making process in this part of the world is difficult work. it is confused, and it's going to be generations. it's not going to be a couple of years. and we've learned these lessons all too much. in syria will hold international community is saying we support you, the united states, if you go in there militarily as long as we don't have to do anything. turkey and france would help us. 194 countries and america's credibility is on the line? i don't buy that.
12:59 pm
the arab fleet of 22 nations in the world say that they support our efforts but they are not going to help us at all. we have learned the lesson the hard way, and i think, again, america has a role in this but it is not a direct military intervention. it's not worked. >> host: paul, minnesota. independent call. >> caller: i'm surprised i actually got through. i appreciate it. we were supposed to get out of afghanistan by christmas of last year putting the bases in and we have seen just like korea and germany -- if it wasn't for the troops that had nothing to do with that obviously, but we went in there are originally in may
1:00 pm
and went from nowhere [inaudible] and we wouldn't even be there. and these people have no education and it's not up to us to educate them. we've been there ten years and it's no different to tell you the truth. >> guest: afghanistan is a nation of about 31 million people. its 44 provinces, and the spiritual home and financial home of the taliban is kandahar province. .. kandahar
1:01 pm
>> i am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team. there's no doubt in my mind that the conduct that they exhibited completely unacceptable, and
1:02 pm
showed a lack of respect for their appropriate role of government, and for the people that we are trusted to serve. i have two pieces to what i want to talk about today. the first is, i believe that all of the people who were affected by this conduct deserve this apology. and that's why i'm giving it to them. i also need to apologize to them for my failure as the governor of this state to understand the true nature of this problem sooner than i did you. i believe i have a true understanding of the nature now, and i've taken the following actions as a result.
1:03 pm
this morning i terminated the employment of bridget kelly, effective immediately. i terminated her employment because she lied to me. i brought my senior staff together, i think about four weeks ago tomorrow, and i put to all of them one simple challenge. if there is any information that you know about the decision to close these lanes in fort lee, you have one hour to tell either my chief of staff, kevin o'dowd, or my chief counsel. i told them that in an hour is going to go out to a press conference, and if no one gave me any other information to the contrary, that i was going to say that no one on my staff was
1:04 pm
involved in this matter. over the course of the next hour, kevin and charlie interviewed each member of my senior staff, came back and reported to me that they all reported that there was no information other than what we already knew that had been testified to by senator baroni, regarding this incident. i then questioned kevin dowd and charlie mckenna directly since they are the only two who report directly to me. and they assured me that they had no information that would change my ability to be able to say that no one in response to inches question, on my staff was involved in this matter your that was obviously a lie. and e-mails that i saw for the first time yesterday morning when they were broken and i
1:05 pm
believe the bergen record story, of proof that that was a lie. there's no justification for that behavior. there's no justification for ever laying to the governor or a person in authority in this government. and as a result, i terminated reaches employment immediately -- bridges employment immediately this morning. second, i have and will continue to, start yesterday, to once again now have personal one on one discussions myself with the remaining members of my senior staff to determine if there's any other information that i do not know and need to know in order to take appropriate action. i've not completed with those
1:06 pm
entities yet, but when i am, if there is additional information that needs to be disclosed, i will do so. if there's additional action that needs to be taken with my senior staff, i will do so. i will tell you though, it's been written a lot over the last couple of days about what a tightknit staff i have and how closely everyone works together, and that is true. and ever since the time i was you as attorney i've engineered the sense in feeling among the people closest to me that we are family and work together and we tell the each other the truth and we support each other when we need to be sorted and we admonish each other when we need to be admonished. i am heartbroken that someone who i permitted to be in that circle of trust for the last five years betrayed my trust. i would never have come out here
1:07 pm
four or five weeks ago and made a joke about the lane closures, if i had ever had an inkling that anyone on my staff would have been so stupid but to be involved, and then so deceitful as to just do not disclose the information of their involvement to me, when directly asked by their superior. and those questions were not asked, by the way, just once. they were asked repeatedly. so i take this action today because it's my job. i am responsible for what happened. i am sad to report to the people of new jersey that we fell short, we fell short of the expectations that we created over the last four years for the
1:08 pm
type of excellence in government that they should expect from this office. but i have repeatedly said to them, that while i promised them the best the governor's office i can give them, i could never promised them a perfect governor's office. and so when i find those imperfections, those mistakes, those lies, my obligation as chief executive of this state is to act, and as to bridget kelly, i've acted today. secondly, i was disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude, callous indifference that was displayed in the e-mail by my former campaign manager, bill. and reading that, it made me lose my confidence in bill's
1:09 pm
judgment. and you cannot have someone at the top of your political operation for you do not have confidence in. as a result, i've instructed bill do not place his name in nomination for state party chairman, and he will not be considered for state party chairman. and i've instructed him to withdraw his consultancy with the republican governors association. if i cannot trust someone's judgment, i cannot ask others to do so. and i would not place him at the head of my political operations because of a lack of judgment that was shown in the e-mails that were revealed yesterday. that has also been communicated to him last night. there's no doubt that bill has
1:10 pm
been one of my closest advisers over the last five years. and so for that, too, i am sad today to have to take this action. but i also know that i have a job to do, and it's a job that i've asked the people of new jersey to entrust me with. and i can never allow personal feelings or long-standing relationships to get in the way of doing my job the way it's appropriate to do it. but i don't want any of you to confuse what i'm saying this morning. ultimately, i am responsible for what happens under my watch, the good and the bad. and when mistakes are made, then i have to own up to them, and
1:11 pm
take action i believe is necessary in order to remediate them. as i mentioned to you earlier, i spent all day yesterday digging into talking to folks and getting to the bottom of things. i know there was much discussion yesterday about what was i doing. well, let me tell you, everybody. i was blindsided yesterday morning. i was done with my workout yesterday morning, and got a call from my communications director at about 8:50, 8:55 informing me of the story but it just broken on the broken website. that was the first time and you about it, the first time i've seen any of the documents that were revealed yesterday. and so before he came out and spoke to all of you, i wanted to do the best i could to try to get to the bottom on some of this so that when i came out i could answer questions as best i
1:12 pm
can and take appropriate action, if action was necessary. there's no doubt from reading those e-mails yesterday, in my mind that action was necessary. and been a wanted to make sure that i spoke to those people who advised me to make sure if there's any other information they were aware of, that i had it before i acted. i'm going to continue this process. i couldn't get it all done yesterday. as i said, if there's more information but and cover, i will act accordingly in terms of releasing it to the public and taking whatever action may be necessary, if any is, for any other issues here and also will react to any information that's been coming from any other place else, given that there's an oig investigation and legislative investigation. later today, i'm going to be going to fort lee, ask to meet with the mayor to apologize to him personally face-to-face, and
1:13 pm
also to apologize to the people of fort lee in their town. i think they need to see me do that personally. and i tend to do that later on today. people of those communities for four days were impacted in a completely in callous and different way. and i'm going to go and apologize for that. let me conclude with this. this is not the tone that i've said over the last four years in this building. is nothing by but i've worked so hard to achieve. we saw just a few months ago, and i see over the course of the last four years, republicans and democrats working together, not without argument. government is never without argument the ultimate coming resolution on so many different issues in a bipartisan way and running a campaign that was, in fact, a bipartisan campaign. and so i am extraordinary
1:14 pm
disappointed by this. but this is the exception. it is not the rule of what happens over the last four years in this administration. i've considered it over the last four years to be my job to be the governor of every new jerseyan, republican, democrat, independent or unaffiliated. and i've worked with elected officials on both sides of the aisle, ones that i agree with and ones that i disagree with. the political overtones that were exhibited in those documents released yesterday and the conduct by those people is not acceptable. but people, i think all across this state, understand. that human beings are not perfect. and mistakes are made. and i believe what they expect of me as the chief executive of
1:15 pm
this state is when the information comes into my possession, that i consider it an act as quickly as possible to remediate whatever ill occurs. that's what i've done today. actions have consequences. and i'm living up to that right now. and i will say one last thing, just so we are really clear your i had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or its execution. and i am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here, regardless of what the facts ultimately uncover, this was handled in a callous and indifferent way, and it is not the way this administration is conducted itself over the last four years and not the way it will conduct itself over the
1:16 pm
next four. i will do everything within my power to ensure the people of new jersey that, and i thank them for their willingness to consider my apology on behalf of this government. in the end, i have 65,000 people working for me everyday, and i cannot know what each one of them is doing at every minute. but that doesn't matter. i'm ultimately responsible for what they did, and that's what i took this action. david? >> governor, beyond the apology and trepidation, what other steps, concrete steps do you plan to take? [inaudible] that you want to change the discussion of what has happened here. and will that include working co-op or delete with the investigations that are now moving forward? in the past year have some rather nasty words speak and i
1:17 pm
apologize about the morning, david, because i was being led to believe by folks abou arounde that there was no basis for this. and so, you know, and let's be fair. there have been times would've been investigations around here that have led to nothing, had no basis. but i was wrong. and so now having been proven wrong, of course we will work co-op really with the investigations. and -- cooperatively with the investigations. i'm going to an exam right now. i'm going through an examination, talking to individual people who work for me. not only to discover if there's other information we need to find, but also to ask them how did this happen. how did -- you know, how did this occur? listen, i said before, i've had a tightknit group of people who i trust explicitly. i had no reason to believe they were telling me the truth.
1:18 pm
it is heartbreaking to me that i wasn't told the truth. i'm a very loyal guy. and i expect loyalty in return. and lying to me is not an exhibition of loyalty. and so, you know, i'm going to look into this personally. it's my responsibility, david. and so what steps will take after that, if there are concrete steps beyond what i've done today, then we will certainly announce them and talk about them. if not, then i'll just say, listen, i think we've gotten to the bottom of this and we're going to move forward with the new team. i have a new team coming in as well, while i'm trying to integrate right now also. that will continue. there will be a lot of action going on around here. kelly. [inaudible] >> no, i'm not.
1:19 pm
listen, kelly, everybody in the country who engages in politics knows that. on the other hand, that's very, very different to saying that computer, -- [inaudible] i had very heated discussions and arguments with people in my own party and on the other side of the aisle. i feel passionately about issues and i don't hide my emotions from people. i am not a focus group tested blowdried candidate. or governor. now, that has always made some people at chanel and easy. some people like that stock, some people don't. i've always said i think you asked me questions the day after the election are you willing to change your style in order to appeal to a broader audience? and i think i said no. because i am who i am, but i am not a bully. what i will tell you is that the folks who have worked with me
1:20 pm
over a long period of time would, i believe, tell you that i am tough, but i've shown over the last four years in the talent that we've said here that i'm willing to compromise and i'm willing to work with others. and a campaign showed that all of the folks who came from the other side of the aisle to support us, that if we weren't willing have relationships with those folks, it never would've happened that way. site don't believe that, kelly, and i don't with a body of work in the last four years shows that. now, in this instance, the language used and the conduct displayed in those e-mails is unacceptable to me. and i will not tolerate it. but the best i can do is when i see stuff like that, to india. i know that won't satisfy everybody, but i'm not in the business of satisfying everybody. i'm in the business of trying to satisfy the people who elected the governor. michael. michael. michael.
1:21 pm
[inaudible] >> senior staff, yes. [inaudible] >> there was no one above bill stepien. he was the campaign manager. [inaudible] >> yet, but michael, their role in the campaign was not the day-to-day operations of the campaign. bill was chairman and he was essentially involved in fundraising. that was bill's main task. michael s. bennett consultant to be dealt with tv ads, so the day-to-day operation of the campaign -- [inaudible] >> i have spoken to both of them. they were two of my discussions yesterday. and she. and she. and she. guys, we don't work that way. [inaudible]
1:22 pm
well, listen, angie, i'm smart enough now after this experience not to go out there and certify that unequivocally. okay? i don't have any evidence before me as we speak that it went beyond this incident. but i can't tell you that i know that for sure as to every aspect of everything. now, i have to be much more circumspect about that. prior to yesterday i believe that if i look someone in the eye whom i worked with and trusted and asked them, that i would get an honest answer. maybe that was naïve, but that's what i believe. so now i'm going into union and asking more questions. but i can't make a working on that and. i don't believe so by can't make a working on that, and doubled because when i did that for weeks ago i ended up being wrong. follow-up.
1:23 pm
[inaudible] >> absolutely not, no. and i knew nothing about this. until it started to be reported in the papers about the closure, but even then i was told this was a traffic site. senator braley testified it was a traffic site. there still may have been a traffic study but now have political overtones to it as well. i don't know the answer to that. i think we will find out, but i don't know because senator braley, with all types of information, statistics and that's an otherwise, said it was a traffic study. so why do i believe that anybody would not be telling the truth about that? i'm not finished yet. but the fact is that regardless of all that, you know, it's clear now that in the minds of some people there were political overtones, political side deal on this, and that's
1:24 pm
unacceptable. so whether there was a traffic study are not, i don't know. it appears that the was one based on what i saw in the testimony, but regardless of whether there was or there wasn't, there clearly also our political overtones that were evident in those e-mails, and other messages, that whenever ever brought to my attention until yesterday. >> do you understand why people -- [inaudible] considering your management style. what does that say about your ability to lead speaker listen, i am -- bears, you know, kind of reputation after a meeting a micromanager. i'm not. i think if you talk to my staff, what they would tell you is that i delegate enormous authority to my staff. and enormous authority to my cabinet. and i tell them, come to me with the policy decisions that need
1:25 pm
to be made. with some high level personnel decisions that need to be made, but i do not manage in that kind of microwave, first. second, there's no way that anybody would think that i know about everything that's going on, not only in every agency of government at all times, but also every independent authority that new jersey it has on its own or by state both with new york, pennsylvania and with delaware. so what i can tell you is that people find that hard to believe, i don't know what else to say except to tell them that i had no knowledge of this, the planning and execution or anything about it. and i first found out about it after it was over. and even then what i was told was that it was a traffic study, and there was no evidence to the contrary until yesterday. that was brought to my attention, or anybody else's attention. and so i understand why people would ask that question and i understand your question completely.
1:26 pm
but what also want to tell people is, even with all that being said, it's still my responsibility. i didn't know about it but it's my responsibility because i'm the governor. so i'm taking that responsibility and taking actions appropriate with executing the responsibility in according to what the information is today. marcia. [inaudible] >> as i've said many times, when i was years ago and i hate it when politicians stood behind a podium and said, this is what the u.s. attorney should or shouldn't do, and i'm not going to engage in that kind of conduct at all. [inaudible] >> well, listen, again, let me
1:27 pm
say this. clearly, that's the tone of those e-mails. but the thing, the other part of this that just shocks me, as i said to you will many times before, mayor sokolich was never on my radar screen. he was ever mentioned to me as somebody whose endorsement we are presented in fact i think he said on cnn last night he doesn't ever recall being asked for an endorsement. so part of this is, i never saw this as political recognition because i didn't think he did anything to us. now, we pursued lots of endorsements during the campaign from democrats on and we didn't receive most of them. we received about 60 at the end of the day. we pursued hundreds. and so, i never, i don't have any recollection of at any time anybody in the campaign ever asking me to meet with mayor sokolich or call them, which was the typical course that was used
1:28 pm
when we were attempting to get an endorsement. staff would work with the elected official first and then when they thought using the vernacular, the ball was on the tee, they would call begin to make a phone call or have a meeting for breakfast. i would then meet with the elected official and see if i could bring it over the line. i don't remember ever meeting mayor sokolich surely noted in the context. i don't ever, i'm sure i met him at some event at bergen county. but until i saw his picture, last but on television, i would not have been able to pick him out of a lineup. so part of this is, the reason that the retribution never came into my head is because i never even knew that we were pursuing his endorsement. and no one ever came to me to get me to try to pursue the endorsement anyway so i never saw -- >> summit. >> sure, of course. of course, of course. john.
1:29 pm
john. [inaudible] >> what was that last piece? birthday party of mine? [inaudible] >> yes, a few of them were there. [inaudible] >> well listen, obviously, i said earlier, john, i'm heartbroken about it and i'm incredibly disappointed. i don't think i've gotten to the anger stage yet but i'm sure i will get there. but i'm just stunned. and what does it make me ask about me? it makes me ask about me what did i do wrong to have these
1:30 pm
folks think it was okay to lie to me? and there's a lot of soul-searching that goes around with this. you know, when you're the leader of an organization, and i've had this happen to me before where i've had folks not tell me the truth about something, not since i've been governor, but in previous leadership positions, you always wonder about what you could do differently. and believe me, john, i haven't had a lot of sleep the last two nights and i've been doing a lot of soul-searching. i'm sick over this. i have worked for the last 12 years in public life developing a reputation for honesty and directness and blunt talk. one that i think is well-deserved. but you know, when something like this happens, it's appropriate for you to question your self. and certainly i am. and i am soul-searching on this.
1:31 pm
but what i also want the people of new jersey to know is that this is the exception, not the rule. they've seen that over the last four years with what i've done. so i don't want to fall into the trap of saying, well, this one incident happened, therefore, the one incident defines the whole. it does not. just like one employee who was lied doesn't determine the character of all the other employees around you. and i don't want to overreact to that and that what you do, john, but if you ask me over the last 48 hours our last 36 hours i've done some soul-searching, you bet i have. ryan. ryan. [inaudible] >> how would you explain that in terms of what you now know about
1:32 pm
what some of your staff did speak with well listen, all i know is, i don't know, ryan, the first answer will give you. but what have also say is, listen, the mayor seemed having a lot of people with me, the senate president and others. there's going to be back and forth, there's going to be meetings canceled. there's going to be public disagreement, but the fact of the matter is we continue to work with bergen city over the course these been made. -- jersey city. the deputy commissioner was just meeting yesterday with mayor philip and his staff on blue paper issues to try to buy properties that were affected by sandy. so we continue to work within. i don't know about the specific needs of what's going on but certainly you know, i will look into all of those things. but the fact is that what can i
1:33 pm
knows is when we agree with him from a policy perspective, we will work with them. when we disagree with him we will express those discreteness. and sometimes that will mean friction. he is sittin hitting -- he is se port authority of the moment. there's lots of back and forth that happens in these things. i've looked in all the stuff but in the end, have i at times been anger at mayor fulop? you but i have. but also spoke at his swearing-in at his invitation. so political relationship in this state go up and down as you know, ryan. sometimes strange bed those, sometimes expected once. and the move. so i'm sure there's been movement in those relationships over time, but not anything that i can explain as to your specific question. >> i had heard you actually learned something new in the situation. is a universal apology signature include -- summit. >> sure. i mean, listen, most of you, i
1:34 pm
hope, are citizens of new jersey. so you would be -- >> there are some exceptions. >> i know there are. we don't need a point of no. the fact is i came out here and said something that was untrue. unwittingly, i said something that was untrue. i think what you'll have seen about me over the last four years of my dealings with you is a deal with you directly. and i said exactly what i feel. and i think over time i have developed the reputation for telling you all the truth. as i see it. it could be disagreements, but the truth as i see it. and so yes, i mean, what i include the press corps? of course it would. because most if not, many if not most of you are residents of the state and you rely upon this state government to be honest and trustworthy as well. and in this instance, my government fell short and i take responsibility for that, and that's why i'm apologizing.
1:35 pm
[inaudible] and what was their explanation? >> i have not had any conversation with bridget kelly since the e-mail came out. and so she was not given the opportunity to explain to me why she lied, because it was obvious that she had. and i'm quite frankly not interested in the explanation of the moment. i'm not done yet, second part of the question. i think it was a statement yesterday that he had no knowledge of this. i interviewed him yesterday. in one identities. i am convinced he is absolutely no knowledge of this, that this was executed at the operational level and never brought to the attention of the board of commissioners until the chairmen wrote his e-mail, our executive director wrote his e-mail to the board of commissioners. so i sat and that for two hours yesterday with mr. sampson, general sampson, and again, i'm confident he had no knowledge of
1:36 pm
this based upon our conversation. and his review of this information. so i think as he said yesterday he's angered by this upset about and i know he's going to cooperate with the oig investigation that is ongoing and lead a discussion at the port authority but what can be done in the future to stop such conduct. charlie, charlie. >> you mention earlier, what did i do wrong. are you also asking the question what can i say are how did i -- [inaudible] that allowed people to think it
1:37 pm
is okay to intimidate or retaliate against? >> charlie, i haven't because i know what you. i'm not that person. and listen, it's easy for people to be characterized in public life based upon their personality. and i was very direct, blunt personality. i understand why some people within characterized that, especially people who don't like you, as bullying. but is not the. i know that about myself and no, i haven't asked that question, charlie. i'm more focused on what the truth was and told. melissa. [inaudible] >> pardon? [inaudible] >> i just did. i just did. i said i'm sorry for that and i would've never made that if i knew the facts that have come forward to me today. [inaudible] >> because i thought it was absurd that i thought we had nothing to do with it. that's why. and, obviously, i -- obviously
1:38 pm
the e-mail, evidence of callous indifference to the result of that, and that's what i have apologized for. and i do apologize for. i certainly intend to apologize, you know, to the mayor today. i'm going to try to have a meeting with him this afternoon. [inaudible] >> who is that? [inaudible] >> i read that. i didn't read that that way. at all. and that was a reference to a traffic study that candidly i know nothing about. and i recognize that the e-mail said something about the government supported or endorsed it. because i do anything about it, i have to believe i was like the governors office genetically, that reference.
1:39 pm
as i stand today, i don't anything about a traffic study in springfield. [inaudible] >> god no, actually not, no. no. it's just not -- no, that's not the would operate. we build relationships over four years. with folks trying to be helpful to every death we could be helpful with appropriate. so no, nothing like that was ever done. [inaudible] >> i'm wondering if your soul-searching about the kind peoplofpeople who run your campr the kind of people you would want to run the republican party who are going to apparently engage in retribution and also call the mayor of fort lee -- [inaudible] >> sure. it was a mistake. i mean, soul-searching is complete on that part of the. it was a mistake. [inaudible]
1:40 pm
>> well, obvious. it was a mistake. listen, the fact is that mistakes were made and i am responsible for those mistakes. and i obviously tried every chance i can to hide the very best people, and i think the history of this administration shows that we have hired outstanding people with great ethical standard, have done their jobs extraordinarily well. in a government of 65,000 people, there are going to be times when mistakes are made. mistakes were made and i remediated those mistakes today by the actions that are taken. and so can you, i'm going to -- i'm in a constant state of try to figure out what's -- who are the best people for individual jobs will make me proud to put them there. so that is always going on. that's nothing new now. but, you know, there are times when people that you put in those positions make mistakes. they disappoint you. you lose your confidence in them, or they lie to you. and when you find that out, the
1:41 pm
task of leadership is what do you do. i found this out at 850 time the yesterday morning. by 9:00 this morning, bridget kelly was fired by 7:00 yesterday evening, bill stepien was asked to leave my organization. that's pretty swift action. for a days work, and that's exactly the way i will continue to conduct myself. if there's any other information surrounding this that comes up or anything different that comes with over the course of the next four years. [inaudible] >> i can, i can differentiate, phil. between people who have served you well and who haven't. and, of course, there's always going to be some com, after
1:42 pm
something like this where you've been lied to. there's going to be some crisis in confidence. okay, there always will be. i become anybody tells you differently is not telling you the truth. they say this happened to you and you're not going to second-guess result at all, well then, then you are just stupid. of course i second-guess myself and gone through my head on some of this stuff. and in the future, i'll try to be even more careful. but here's what i know about human beings, phil. i've hired a lot of them in my time as u.s. attorney. as governor, and as a hiring attorney in private practice law firm. sometime, despite the best background check, despite the best interviews, despite your best instincts, sometimes people are a mistake higher. sometimes they start off as a good because of circumstances that happened in your life, they change. you can't prevent everything.
1:43 pm
but the test of leadership is when you find it out, what do you do. and i'm saddened to have to do this. it's difficult personally to do, but it's my job. and i have taken an oath and i'm going to execute my job. josh. [inaudible] >> yeah, i'm sorry. [inaudible] >> a few things. first off, to my knowledge, and
1:44 pm
i think the mayor said this last night, i have no knowledge of him being asked for an endorsement. he may have been, but he certainly was never asked i ne need. but he i think said last lead on television that he doesn't recall ever being asked for an endorsement. that's why this made no sense to me, josh, because why would you execute a vendetta against somebody who you didn't even give a chance to say no to? put a side effect you shouldn't do that at all, but then if you never asked them for an endorsement, why are you mad at him he didn't give one? none of this mak made any senseo me. that's the first point. [inaudible] >> i don't. i don't. and again, i don't know whether this was a traffic study that then morphed into a political vendetta, or a political vendetta that morphed into a traffic study. i mean, i've seen in front of the legislature statistics and other things about the traffic studies so i know there's information there. i don't know what it is.
1:45 pm
and so we will find out over time, maybe. but that's really in the minds of the people who were doing it. that's what i base my decisions on at the time was the testament that people gave. lastly -- [inaudible] >> no, no, no. listen, i don't know exactly what you are referencing but i think that you are talking about the memo that was leaked, is that what you're talking about? no. [inaudible] >> yeah, it was something -- yeah, i asked general samsung
1:46 pm
about that. i asked joe simpson about the yesterday but he said he has no idea what he was afraid to. and the only communication that he had at that time was his concern that he expressed to fellofellow commissioners about internal port authority documents being leaked. and that he just said that's just not appropriate for folks to be leaking internal documents. but he has no recollection from what he told me yesterday of any conversation like that with wild stink or grown at all that referenced what, the gist of which is said in the e-mail. [inaudible] >> sorter not that i'm aware of are not out of the norm. let's remove or something, too. this is a lie state agency with significant tension. all the time. now, there's a tension between governor cuomo and i. week we get along quite well and when issues arise our level we've always been able to resolve them. but there is tension and always
1:47 pm
has been between new york and new jersey on the allocation of resources at the port authority. and so let me be clear. there is some battles over there that go on that it happened in every administration over the course of my memory, but you can't connect that pashtun that's kind of the ongoing nature of the tension of that agency. and i think of most by state agencies, although i think the port authority of new york and new jersey because the resources are greater and the demand for more, so even more. but no, nothing specific to that, josh, but i do want to declared people that there is tension that goes on between the employees of these agencies. not every one of those are raised my level of governor cuomo level, but the good news for the people of new york and new jersey is that when those issues have been raised in the last three years, to my level and governor cuomo's level, we have always between the two of
1:48 pm
us amicably resolved and been able to move on. sometimes that's the role governors have to play in that agency. [inaudible] >> are you not questioning your own judgment? [inaudible] >> okay, let me answer that and i'll let you follow-up. i don't know what makes a legitimate traffic study. it's not my area of expertise, and so i wouldn't have a nose for the. just wouldn't. i don't know what goes into a traffic study. i'm told sometimes it's done by, sometimes by computer model. i've heard that from experts have testified in front of the port authority. you would have to go and ask them. i probably wouldn't know a
1:49 pm
traffic study if i trip over it. [inaudible] >> no, it didn't. go ahead. >> you said just a moment ago that sometimes -- [inaudible] >> not true. not true. i denied that story before. at the old story and governor cuomo has denied it as well, so it's not true. [inaudible] >> listen, i have no idea, but clearly, you know, there's a difference of opinion between senator baroni and pat foyt about the existence of a traffic study. and it seems to me to be evidence that senator baroni showed on statistics and maps and other things about a traffic study. if you go back to the new ones which really constitutes a
1:50 pm
traffic study or not. they may be arguing about some specific and nuance that i'm not familiar with. but i certainly would not accuse pat foyt of purging himself. i don't, i'm not. i'm just telling you what i was told and what we saw before the legislature. i certainly wouldn't accuse pat foyt of perjuring himself in any way. [inaudible] >> listen, guess what? after reading everything yesterday i don't know. but what i'm telling you is that that's what i've been told. he seems to display evidence of that at the time but that's now because of the tone and tenor of these e-mails and text messages, that's now how all this stuff is something that i'm not going towards the because i don't know given some of this back and forth i went on between all of us. senator broun is a very respected guy. he has served in the building a long time. i've known him for a long time. when he, you, made his testament i would have no reason to
1:51 pm
believe that he wasn't telling the truth. but obviously from reading the e-mails yesterday there was other stuff going on that hadn't been informed about. bob. [inaudible] spent i never called him personally, no, but baroni's position continues to be that there was a traffic study and he had a disagreement with pat foye about that. so they had to discredit. that was pretty clear and i don't think bill baroni will change his mind because pat foye had expressed those concerns in earlier written documents that he -- 90, but someone had put out for press. [inaudible] i had no conversation with bill stepien. [inaudible] >> no, no. listen. i had early conversations with bill stepien where, as i expressed to you at the time, that you'll told me he knew apsley nothing about this.
1:52 pm
so, you know, and through the e-mails yesterday and e-mails well after the fact, so, but that's not the basis upon which i made my decision on bill. my decision on bill was made based on the fact of the tone, the tenor and the conduct that was evident in those e-mails. i had lost confidence in his judgment and that's what i made the decision i made as to bill. brian. [inaudible] >> i have no idea what the process would look like at this point. as i said many times before. and i know that everybody in the political media and then the
1:53 pm
political chattering class wants to start the 2016 race. universities can't help themselves but two polls that are meaningless three years away from an election. you guys can't help but put them on the air and talk about them. my job is to be governor of new jersey, and i will say what i said before. i am enormously flattered that folks would talk about me in my party as someone who they think could be a candidate for president. but i am absolutely in, nowhere near beginning that consideration process. i haven't even been sworn in for my second term it. i've got work to do here and that's my focus. my focus is on the people of new jersey and the job that they gave me. and so all those considerations are, you know, the kind of hysteria that goes around this as everybody in the world gets preoccupied with that job. i am not preoccupied with a job. i am preoccupied with this one. and as you can tell, i've got plenty to do so it's not like
1:54 pm
i've got some spare time to spend. yes, because you roll your eyes and looking very disgruntled i had and called on you yet. well, i've known brian longer than you. [inaudible] >> i think you -- i think you -- summit i'm sad. i'm sad. that's the predominant emotion i feel right now. is sadness. sadness that i was betrayed by member of my staff, sadness that i people entrusted with important jobs who acted completely inappropriately. sad that that has led the people of new jersey to have less confidence in the people that i selected. the emotion i've been displaying in private is said. as i said earlier i think in the
1:55 pm
answer to your question, i don't know what the stages of grief are in exact order but i know anger gets there at some point. i'm sure i will have that, too, but the fact is right now i'm sad. [inaudible] >> let me just put something up, okay? about my childhood friend david wildstein. it is true that i met david in 1977 in high school. he is a year older than me. david and i were not friends in high school. we were not even acquaintances in high school. i mean, i had high school, livingston, a three-year high school that 1800 students in a three-year high school in the late '70s, early 1980s. i knew who david wildstein was. i met david on a campaign in 1977. he was a youth volunteer and so was i. really after that time i completely lost touch with david. we didn't travel the same circles in high school. i was the class president and
1:56 pm
athlete. i don't know what david was doing during that period of time, and then we reacquainted years later and i think 2000, when he was helping bob franks with his senate campaign against jon corzine. so we went 23 years without seeing each other. and in the years we didn't see each other, we passed in the hallways. and so i want to clear that up. it doesn't make a difference except that it sinks in the stories, went into like a closeness between me and david. it doesn't exist. i know david, and you know, i knew that bill baroni wanted to hire david to come to the port authority and give my permission for them to do it but that was bills higher. he asked for permission, i gave my permission for him to hire david, but let's be clear about the relationship, okay? and how do i feel about david now?
1:57 pm
listen, what i read yesterday makes me angry. that's the one bit of anger i felt. that language and that callous indifference in those e-mails from david yesterday are just over the top and outrageous. that should never ever have been written for utter by somebody with a position of responsibility like that. and those sentiments. so that's why i feel about. that's -- further espouse on my relationship. john. [inaudible] i made my -- [inaudible] >> john, i said i haven't spoken to them since i discovered the e-mails. but i spoke to them beforehand. and bridget could not tell me the truth. and bill, you do, what told me at the time is not contradicted
1:58 pm
by the e-mails, and but the e-mails and the color and character of e-mails have led me to conclude that i don't have confidence in his judgment any longer and that's what i asked him to move on, and he has. you know, at this point there are legislative hearings that will come and all the rest and i do want to get myself in the middle of that. that chairman said clear yesterday that he intends to ask bridget kelly and bill stepien to testify, and i don't, my gut says, john, it would be appropriate for me to get in the middle of that because then there would be all kinds of allegations about the conversation. so i think the smart thing for me to do is to ask those two books on a determination regarding their future to move on from there and talk to other folks who are still in my employ. yes. [inaudible]
1:59 pm
>> i believe, i believe that i've spoken to everyone who was mentioned in the e-mail, except or charlie mckenna, who is away at a family funeral. and i'm confident based on my conversations with them that they had no prior knowledge nor involvement in this situation. [inaudible] >> yeah, well that's your characterization, not mine, but is nobody on my staff who had any knowledge of this issue until after the issue was already done. ..
2:00 pm
all along the lines of the people of new jersey, the first couple of years you were governor [inaudible] any thoughts about possibly trying to do something like that again? >> we suspended town halls during the campaign because of our concern that folks may raise the issue blurring the line between what would be a town hall and would be the campaign event, so we made the determination we were not going to do

44 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on